Sunday Snippet Critique Blog Hop


sunday_snippets critique blog hop image

It’s that time again, chickadees!  In this hop, participants post 250 words of their work in progress to be critiqued.  Then everyone hops around to critique others.   Want to get involved?  Click here for the rules, and leave a comment to have your name added to the list.

Here is my addition to the hop this week.   This is the beginning of Chapter 3 of my novel, In the Shadow of the Dragon King.  We are back with Eric in this piece.  Feel free to hack away.

Chickens squawked and scattered.  Grain wagons carrying fresh apples creaked over the cobblestones as servants hurried toward the kitchens with baskets of freshly picked berries and vegetables.  Chaotic shouts from the courtyard carried to Eric’s ears as dozens of domestics scrambled to prepare the courtyard for King Gildore’s and Queen Mysterie’s arrival.

Eric smiled at the thought of Their Majesties return.  They’d been away for a year, scouting for educators for the new university, set to break ground in a few months.  Word had it they accomplished their mission, and some of the sharpest minds from lands far away would arrive upon its completion.

Hirthinians were ecstatic, for the addition of a major learning center meant growth and prosperity to the kingdom.  Already, children and adults alike were learning to read and write in schools erected and staffed by the royal family.  A university would open opportunities, not only for Hirthinians, but to neighboring realms as well.  Others would arrive from lands far away. Trade and commerce would expand.  The small royal town of Hammershire would grow into a major city, a universal hub of activity. The dream for everyone to live with wealth, honor and grace in a land of opportunity and hope was one of many reasons the residents of the kingdom adored their king and queen.  It is also why they felt compelled to descend upon Gyllen castle and Hammershire to welcome them home.

Eric’s insides flitted with excitement, eager to hear about the royal couple’s adventures and plans.  His excitement was short-lived, however, when Sestian barged through the open barn doors, panting, his hair a mess and his clothes askew.

“Eric, you’ve got to ask Trog for permission to attend festival.”

334drRageG

Click on over to these great writers to check out and critique what they’ve posted!

Note:  Those who have not been participating have been removed.

http://mermaidssinging.wordpress.com/

http://caitlinsternwrites.wordpress.com/

http://ileandrayoung.com

http://jennifermeaton.com/

http://richardleonard.wordpress.com

http://jordannaeast.com

http://itsjennythewren.wordpress.com/

http://wehrismypen.wordpress.com

http://jlroeder.wordpress.com

http://letscutthecrap.wordpress.com/

http://ashortaday.wordpress.com

http://mandyevebarnett.com/

http://www.michellezieglerauthor.com

You’ve signed a publishing contract…what’s next?


If you’ve been following my blog, you know I’ve recently begun to navigate some uncharted waters.  I wrote a short story based on a publisher’s prompt, went through many beta reads until I got it ‘right’, paused a long time before I hit the submit button, and managed to obtain that elusive publishing contract.  I know.  To a lot of people,  a short story in an anthology is not the same as getting a novel accepted for publication, but to me…a publishing contract is a publishing contract.  I’ll take it, baby!  🙂

But what happens after you sign the dotted line? (which isn’t dotted by the way, in case you’re wondering)

I can’t speak for the industry as a whole because this is my first venture, but for me, I’ve been assigned an editor.  Now, if you’ve never worked with an editor, this can be a little daunting and scary.  Editors are different than beta readers in the sense they have a feel for the market.  They know what works and what doesn’t work.  They know what to look for:  grammar, logic, flow, story, clarity, sentence structure, specific errors, overuse of words, and many other elements.

I’d like to pause here for a moment and recommend two sites to help you fine-tune your document before you submit.  There is the paid version of Autocrit, which is a fantastic piece of software, and there’s the poor man’s version (free), ProWritingAid. Both will help you find overused words and constructs, consistencies in hyphenation, US vs UK words, capitalization, spelling, cliché’s, redundancies, and so much more.  Autocrit is a little better because it breaks down the sections into reports and explains errors in a bit more detail than ProWritingAid does, but not everyone has the $$$ for Autocrit and ProWritingAid performs well.

Okay, what happens after you get the contract and get an editor?  You get your first line edits from the editor.  This can be really scary and upsetting if you don’t know what to expect.  Let me warn you, it may (and probably will), drive you to tears, but you can’t take it personally. Remember…your editor is your new best friend.  (S)he will help you polish your gem and make it the best it can be.  With that will come a few growing pains.  You’ll get through them.  Trust me.

When I got my first set of line edits, my manuscript looked like someone bled on it.  There were bracketed comments in the middle of the document with editor notes in red.  There were strike-throughs, comments, altered text, insertions, deletions.  You name the editing mark, it was probably in there.  Thankfully, my editor and I have an open line of communication (very important), and we’re able to bounce ideas off of each other and find solutions that work for both of us.  So far, the ride has been a smooth one.

I’m currently on my second round of line edits along with what my editor refers to as the author line credits.  This is where I go over the second line edits and make my changes to those.  Again, the second round was difficult to look at because now we’re in the tweaking stage.  Now we’re tightening the voice, keeping the pace consistent.  Looking for additional grammatical errors that were overlooked.  Finding plot holes.  This means more cross-throughs, additions, deletions, text transfers.  And, because I’m working with a publisher and an editor, I now have deadlines.  I’ll talk more about that next week.

Overall, the experience so far has been intense and I’m learning a lot as far as accepting criticism, knowing when parts of my story don’t work and accepting they don’t work, and being a part of watching my story come to life the way it should.  It’s an incredible journey, and one I’m glad I made, and it all started with the click of a button that said, ‘Submit’.

K is for Knack, Kudos and Kleenex


This is a continuation of the A-Z blog challenge.  Click here to see the list of all 1935 participants!

For the past several weeks I’ve tested my writing capabilities like I’ve never done before.  I wrote a short story based on a picture and submitted it to a publisher for an upcoming anthology.  This was no easy feat.

I stared at the picture a lot, actually for a couple of months.  I thought I had a story I wrote years ago that would work.  I dusted it off and after reading it again, decided it belonged back in the vault. I was back to square one.  I then started reading through some other unpublished pieces and decided to take a few things out of each one that I liked, and weave a new tale that would capture the essence of the picture.

It was more difficult than I thought it would be.

Slowly but surely, a story emerged and I was happy with it…well, I was happy with the 1st half of it.  The second half sucked, with a capital S.  Even my beta readers agreed. However, with their comments, I brainstormed and came up with another half that we agreed was much better and presentable.  I submitted the story to the publisher.  That was April 2.

The next day I received an e-mail from the publisher. My heart almost leapt out of my chest.  I held my breath and opened the e-mail.  They liked the story but wanted changes. Would I be willing to make them and re-submit?  Can anyone say, “Heck Yeah!”  I had until April 11 to resubmit.

I thought about it, racked my brain, tortured my beta readers while offering my own critiques of their short stories for the same anthology competition.  Amazing enough, it never felt for a moment like we were competing against each other.  We were three authors working together in hopes of being published together.  And, because we were all part of an online writer’s group, the three of us had tons of support from the other members.  I can’t begin to say thank you enough to our support team.

In the wee hours of April 11, I sent over a revised copy of my short to the publisher.  An e-mail from the publisher around 11:40 yesterday morning sent my heart racing.  Was it good news?  Bad?  With a knot forming in my gut, I opened the e-mail.

They wanted clarification and ideas on how I would change some things.  Would I give them in-line comments on how I would fix some things?  Whew.  Not a denial.  I answered “Yes”, and I provided them with what they wanted, but let me tell you, the self-doubt kicked up a notch.  Here I was in the second round of edits and I still missed the mark.  What does that say about me as a writer?

Wait.  No.  Don’t go down the pity path, I said to myself.  They were requesting information from me.  That meant they were still interested.  Stay focused. Stay positive. The next round of e-mails concurred with my ideas and I got the “We’ll let you know” e-mail.  Okay.  Still in the running.

Today, I sit and wait.  Only five out of all the submissions the publisher received will find a home in the new anthology.  Part of me feels very positive. I mean, I gave it my all; the other part feels like I’m an outlier statistic.  These are feelings I think all new authors feel and go through.  Our hands sweat.  We get nervous.  We check our e-mails a gazillion times and pray when we get the one that counts, it’s good news.

No matter what the outcome, I know me.  Tears will fall, either out of joy or sadness.  The box of Kleenex is already on my desk.  I will cry for those who made it, and cry for those who didn’t, but never once will I doubt we all have the knack to tell a great story.  Kudos to all who tried and took the chance, and to my beta sisters who submitted along with me…you rock my world and I am blessed to have you on my side.  Good luck to each of you.  My fingers and toes are crossed.

The dreaded half and half


Hi everyone. Guess what I did?  I wrote a half and half.  What’s a half and half?  It’s a story where the first half kicks awesome butt and the second half gets the awesome butt kicked out of it.

I knew this before I sent it out to my beta readers, but sometimes I’m not sure if my doubts are my own insecurities beating me up, or if my story is really bad writing.  This time, it was really bad writing.

And not only one, but two beta readers told me the same thing.  In fact, they both pointed out to me the exact same spot the story fell apart, why it fell apart, and what to do about it.  If I didn’t know better, I’d think they were sitting side by side comparing notes, that’s how almost identical their comments were.

Well, I suppose if I’m going to make mistakes, they should be glaring ones.

 So what was wrong with it?  The plot.  It fell apart.  There were pot holes – no, make that sink holes – everywhere in the second half.  Both of my betas said the first half was excellent and they offered minor suggestions to make it tighter.  In the second half, my main character acted against his nature.  I threw in danger when there shouldn’t have been any…in the form of Yetis.  One beta compared the scene to Disneyland Adventures Kinect game. (and this is supposed to be an adult fantasy romance? Oh, no no no.  Make note:  the Disneyland Yetis have to go).  There were characters that walked on and off scene with no reason why, scenes that just happened because…?  (Heck , I don’t even know and I’m the author).  Face it.  There are times when the excuse “Because I can” doesn’t work.

Why did all this happen?

Because I was trying to make the story into something it wasn’t.  I was forcing it, trying to get the story to conform to a mold.  I was looking at a deadline and I was trying too hard to interject an element in the story that really can’t be rushed.  The result?  An ooey gooey mess that now has to be written all over again.  Once again, I should have listened to my gut and not my head.

After giving the story a two-day rest, I started it back up again and I’m writing the second half the way I should have written it all along.  I’m writing for me, not for what I think someone else wants or expects.  I figure others will either like it or they won’t.  I can’t please everyone, so I shouldn’t try.  All I can do is write from the heart.  Once I do that, the rest will fall into place.

So what about you?  Have any of you written a half and half?  Please share your literary blunders and how you overcame them.

Fourth Writer’s Platform-Building Campaign


I’m always looking for ways to help authors promote themselves, their works, etc., and build their platforms.  The fantastic Rachael Harrie is conducting her fourth writer’s platform-building campaign, and I’ve decided to join in.  It’s a great way to meet other writers, find new beta readers, critique partners and contests/giveaways.  It’s not too late to join in.  You have until tomorrow to sign up.   Just go to Rachael’s site here.  You can read all about the campaign here.

Also, just a heads up.  I will be hosting a fun contest soon.  The winner will receive a line-by-line edit/critique of the first 10 pages of your manuscript.   More details to follow.